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Nature of beauty [philosophy]

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by BehindTheMoon, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. I have a question. The sort of thing which gets around on post cards and calendars as beautiful - the official, sanctified beauty, if you will - is all very well, but it basically bores me. You know what I'm talking about, pictures of waterfalls and moss-covered stones, or kittens and doe-eyed puppy dogs. However, although I like natural scenery as much as the next person, there is a sight which I consider beautiful in the extreme, and which never fails to rivet me to the spot. It's also something which is lacking utterly in popular appeal, and totally, comprehensively absent from the ranks of slickly produced new age calendars. I'm talking about construction sites.

    Now, don't ask me why I prefer construction sites and dark damp alleyways to river-front views and green lawn. I don't know. Suffice to say that I have more vivid memories of the dust and chaos of a destroyed building than I do of the family trip to New Zealand, hired aircraft trip over the mountains and all. The rotting and abandoned places of the world seem to hold me in a kind of fascination.

    I mentioned this to a friend and he thought I was nuts.

    I'm just wondering what it means to say that something is beautiful when people can obviously have such conflicting perceptions. I'm also wondering if anybody else enjoys the same inverted aesthetic as I do, and if so how they see themselves compared to the "post-card purchasing" norm. *

    * No offense intended to the post-card purchasing norm - you are welcome to your perceptions and in no way do I consider anyone less of a human being because they go with the flow.
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I find one of the most beautiful and sad things that deeply affects me, is a picture of someone crying, that they are unaware was taken. Also people that are very angry is strong too.

    The most beautiful thing however is the Earth, I love the Earth, and it is the definitive beauty.

    I think that labeling yourself as different from the norm, is a very dangerous hobby, just like what you like and leave it be. Too many people these days are striving to get noticed, to be different, or whatever, but it all ends up being kind of silly in the end.

    Beauty is defintatly a subjective term, there is beauty to be found in almost everything, You just have to look for it. Beauty doesn't necessarily have be about what interests you in a scene or person or thing, it can be what a scene,person thing makes you feel, or whats going on in that thing/person/scene..ya know?
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    You wanna know what I think? There is beauty in absolutely everything, it's just a matter of whether you perceive it or not. Different people perceive beauty in different places. Some perceive no beauty at all. Some perceive beauty absolutely everywhere. I think the latter category is a wonderful one to be in. Personally, I love natural scenery, but construction sites... not so much! But, each to his own, who cares whether it's the norm or not?
  4. this is beauty
    she inspires me and gives me hope. that's what beauty is all about, often.
  5. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    To answer the question... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person's beauty can be another person's beast. Everyone sees things differently, and everyone can find beauty somewhere.

    To me, nothing is more beautiful tham sitting on a pier on the Chesapeak at midnight on a clear, starry night. A slight warm breeze, waves gently lapping against the shore. The full moon shining brightly on the shore, and making the tips of waves sparkle across the water. A fishing rod in my hand and a tackle-box by my side. Nothing is more beautiful, peaceful, or scerene.

    To me, that is beauty.
  6. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I deal with photography professionally (as a creative director) and am a pretty serious hobbiest. My wife and I have share a fascination with this theme, and have many photo series devoted to decaying buildings and industrial artefacts. We've gone so far as to 'let ourselves in' to condemned and abandoned buildings in search of compelling images. These images invite the viewer to contruct their own history, and really spark the imagination in a way that a picture of a butterfly cannot, IMO.

    Here's an random shot that I happened to have saved on my hard drive here at work. Not the greatest shot I have on this theme, but it gives the idea...

    I do, however, still like to take pictures of butterflies...

    There's beauty to be found in many places, if you're willing to look for it!
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    For artistic purposes, I really like industrial scenes. Especially in black and white. Something about cold metal and bleak, muted paletes makes me...I dunno, stirred. Nature is definitely it's own thing, and I would rather live in a cottage in the middle of nowhere than an industrial loft.

    But, there is something that draws me to places like abandoned steel factories, shipping yards, and the like.
  8. *doody doody doo* <---Wavy lines/storytime effect.

    While filming the movie "Smoke", Paul Auster was walking along a sidewalk, looked down and saw a brilliant, shining diamond laying on the ground in front of him. The light was shining on it just right to make the light seem as if it was dancing, it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. He reached down to pick it up...

    It turned to mush between his fingers. It actually wasn't a diamond at all, just a big loogie someone had spat on the ground.

    One of my grilfriend's was walking to class one winter day, and walked past a pile of spilled garbage bags that had been frozen over. She said it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.

    Puppy's and kitties are cute, not beautiful.

    Beauty, to me, is something that makes you stand still and just watch it for no reason. Whether it be people, birds or the landscape, or a trash bag in the wind.

    I like butterflies too though.
  9. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    The way Jascha Heifetz plays(ed) the violin. That sound! I am immobilized by it.

    The way Keith Moons drums crash like waves at the end of 5:15.

    Watching Joe Satriani make it look so easy, as I am thrilled that he's playing a song live I haven't heard him do live before.

    How about Elvin Jones on "A Love Supreme"? !!!!!!

    Hearing a solo piano version of "Rhapsody in Blue". The song of New York City!

    Crickets telling me that Summer is almost gone.

    Watching my kids eat dinner. Wanting to buy them slurpies or chocolate. How lucky I am to have met the right woman!

    Seeing old friends, and thier kids whom you love as much as your own kids.

    That feeling...looking out the window as the plane leaves the runway going up...up...up...

    That I am free!
  10. 1979 by smashing pumpkins.
    that slightly shy, bashful look a quiet pretty girl gets on her face when you and her start to say something at the same time.
    very expressive eyes.
    the motion of a perfect billiards shot.
    the smell when you peel back the bark on a maple tree's branch.
    a large expanse of totally undisturbed snow.
    doing drawing on driveways with wet chalk, so that they dry to make really vibrant colors.
    a broken bottle or vase or something like that on the ground, where you can see where it fits back together.

  11. Said better than I could say it, and I believe that they're right.

    My example; I've travelled a lot, around Scotland and England. I've seen the Highlands of Scotland pretty well, and the hill and mountains, the natural beauty..... to me, it's more "impressive" and "majestic" maybe even scary, because some thing so big is absolutly natural, is untouched by us humans, is just so much bigger than us. But to me, it's just that, impressive and majestic.

    But to me, BigWig Will got it perfectly; it's something that I just stop and stare at, maybe because there is so much to it, or whatever. I think that last time I did that, it was of an abandoned ship in Africa (it was a photo in a newspaper supplement), it was this huge rusting hulk sticking up into the skyline. I just sat and stared at it for ages.

    Maybe "beauty" is what catches our eye, but it's a kinda fleeting thing then; the second glimpse is never quite as powerful as the first.

    Maybe, I'm not sure.
  12. I suppose I should add, after a bit of thought, that I seem to confuse majesty with beauty.


    A huge great tall ship sailing using the wind along the sea.
    Devin Townsend's music (Terria especially).
    A full moon.
    An old industrial facility (abandoned or not).

    Is it just me that's getting majesty confused with beauty? Or are they the same thing, really?
  13. yea! just like that dude in the movie American Beauty. There is so much beauty in the world..I to am one that see's beauty in just about verything, I am a artist.(painter)..I get most of my ideas from photos I take. ...most people don't understand the the beauty of some of my work and are turned off by it...so I believe that beauty is totally subjective....but it's all good

  14. jasonbraatz


    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA

    i was thinking the exact thing. i saw that movie this weekend for the 100th time and it still moves me.
  15. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    One time I climbed a "mountain" in North Carolina called "Shining Rock". On top is a huge hunk of some natural mineral rock, it's enormous. But away from a rock was another little piece of that rock covered, which was a very mellow orange. Covered with the most vibrant violet flower pedals, and it was completely surrounded with these winding vine like trees. It was amazing, It looked like it was set up by a person. I wish I would have had a camera. It's one of the things that inspired me to have a camera. We pass so many beautiful things a day, I've missed so many "Kodak Moments". That and I took a photo class in high school and it seemed fun. I can't wait to go back down to North Carolina with a camera.
  16. have you ever read edmund burke's pre revolutionary essays on the sublime?? if you find beauty in what you describe, you may find his books to be up your alley.
  17. The most beautiful sight (besides my fiancee) I've ever seen was a few years ago on a hike with my scout troop. We had climbed to the top of South Sister, the third tallest peak in Oregon (10,720 ft) We had milled around, put our packs down, and taken a couple of photos. Then basically we all fell asleep (it had been a hard climb)

    I was the first to wake up. What I saw was a bunch of my close friends, sleeping on the top of a volcano. I image that we had the audacity to sleep here, to kind of thumb our nose at nature like that, really stuck with me.

    Course, then another guy woke up and threw a snowball at me, which kinda riuned it.:D

    Rock on
  18. That was the kind of thing which led me to think about and post this in the first place. I was walking past a construction site in the Perth retail district and was just struck motionless by the incredible sight of all this moodily lit chaotic brick and dust sprawled everywhere, with a great big noisy digger growling away in the middle. For a few seconds I thought it was alive, as if some kind of modern dragon had made a nest in the middle of the city.

    The thing which really strikes me thinking about it later on is the visceral intensity of the emotion - nothing I have ever seen, beautiful women (ahem), mountain ranges - nothing has ever produced anything even close to the jolt I felt that day.

    Accident can produce the most amazing things sometimes.
  19. Mathias_TfG


    Apr 28, 2002
    New York
    Well, this question is kindof like the chicken and the egg question, in that no one will ever be able to come up with an all-encompasing answer that will be 100% satisfactory. In my opinion, many things can be beautiful. I have a feeling that nature, in its undesturbed form would probably take the cake for me, although I have never been able to expirience this, as most wild habitats are not old growth. I have always been fascinated by abandoned buildings and observing how nature reclaims the site. Buildings deteriorate, machinery rusts, trees eventually re-grow. There's an abandoned open pit mine near where I live (one of the largest in the world). Walking around there and seeing how nature has been f'ed up by people, but is growing back, as well as contemplating the stories of the people who used to work in those buildings and such. It's just fascinating.

    i guess beauty can anything that is deeply touching, or induces strong emotion. But what you may think is beautiful, I may view as ugly (sight makes me angry/naucious (sp?))

    I probably have made no sense here, but I gave it a shot.
  20. Sofa King

    Sofa King

    Aug 20, 2000
    Rowlett, TX
    Dude! I love stuff like that, too! I've always, always, had a fascination with abandoned houses and buildings. Especially when they're in a sagging state of disrepair. I think it's awesome to see what we build up slowly come down, you know?

    I think photography like this kicks ass:

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